OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will research ways to capture carbon dioxide from industrial plants including a trash incinerator in Oslo as part of plans to slow global warming, the government said on Friday.
It said it would invest 360 million Norwegian crowns ($45 million) in the 2017 budget to study how to capture carbon emitted by a cement factory, ammonia plant and rubbish incinerator.
Until now, almost all efforts worldwide for capturing carbon dioxide, the main man-made greenhouse gas, have focused on the chimneys of coal-fired power plants rather than industrial processes.
In 2007, then-Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that Norway would invest heavily in carbon capture in what he called a "Moon landing" inspired by the U.S. Apollo project that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969.
But it has proven far more difficult than expected.
"This is going to be hard work and has to be addressed in a step by step manner," Oil and Energy Minister Tord Lien told Reuters with respect to the new plans. Even so, he said that "all three projects are kind of unique".
The cash would allow concept studies of work to capture carbon dioxide at a cement factory run by Norcem AS, an ammonia plant run by fertilizer maker Yara, and a trash incinerator run by the Oslo municipality.
The research would also build on plans by Gassco and Statoil to transport carbon dioxide by ship and bury it beneath the seabed off west Norway. Lien said final decisions on investments would be taken in early 2019 and full-scale projects could be in place from 2022.
If realized, the projects would each cost billions of crowns.
Frederic Hauge, head of the Bellona environmental group, said the carbon capture could create thousands of jobs and help develop technologies to slow climate change. "Overall this is a good day," he said, but added that the timetable was too slow.
In 2017, Norway will also continue a three-year research program at a carbon capture technology center on the west coast, worth 642 million crowns over three years, and spend 200 million for a separate carbon capture research plan, Lien said.
Reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Mark Heinrich